Saint Barnabas Medical Center NICU Family Story: Four Under Four

The following appeared in the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Family Advisory Newsletter.

Our first child, a daughter, was born March 23, 2006 at 41 weeks. It was a fairly normal pregnancy following a few months of fertility help. At the time, my husband and I planned to have at least three children, but we were so happy when Emily was born healthy and happy.

After becoming pregnant with Emily, I was told I would need help again when we were ready for baby number two. The plan was to enjoy our baby girl and in a year or two try forward nine weeks after Emily was born and we began our journey towards becoming a family of 4 in about 8 months. Our son was due to be born mid-March 2007, almost exactly a year apart from Emily. Plans were in place for our daughter's first birthday party as well as welcoming our baby boy.

I was teaching Kindergarten at the time and feeling great (a little tired but that was expected). What was not expected was that I would leave school on Friday, January 12 and not return for the year. That afternoon, I began feeling contractions and being extremely concerned, we called the doctor. We went to the hospital and I was immediately given medication to stop the labor and an injection to help my baby boy’s lungs develop. I was sent home on modified bed rest which was not very easy when we had a nine-month-old baby at home.

I made it through the weekend, but by Wednesday, January 17, 2007 our son decided it was time for him to make his very early arrival. Even being born at 29 weeks, Brandon was over 4 lbs. He was immediately taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC), where for the next few weeks, he received the best care we could have ever asked for. There were good days and bad ones, many ups and downs, but through it all, the nurses and doctors who cared for Brandon were unbelievable. From the many calls (sometimes in the middle of the night), to the endless questions we had, someone was always there to ease our minds.

A few weeks later, in February, Brandon was released from the NICU and came home to join his big (not by much) sister. We have been grateful to the NICU for everything they did for our family. Brandon is now 13 years old, going into 8th grade. He and Emily just had their B’nai Mitzvah in December and decided to give back to the NICU as part of their Mitzvah project. Emily crocheted hats for the babies, and Brandon made take home bags for families currently there.

About two years after Brandon was born, we decided that we wanted to add to our young and happy family. This time it wasn’t as easy, but we became pregnant with twins. Being that I was carrying twins and my history of delivering a premature baby, I was high risk and was watched very carefully. Each week that went by was one more week that our twins were growing and thriving. Each doctor visit showed our babies’ heartbeats and development. By 30 weeks, I had surpassed the “danger zone” and although cautious, I felt comfort knowing that if my twins were born early, they would receive the same amazing care that Brandon got. We were much less worried, and being that they were twins, and our third and fourth children (in four years), we assumed that they would be in the NICU for some amount of time.

At 35 weeks, on October 13, 2009, Addison and Samantha were born, weighing in at 3.8lbs and 4.2 lbs. Healthy and happy, they were brought to the NICU for observation and some feeding help. Samantha needed some help regulating her body temperature and Addison was mostly there for “sisterly support.” The girls stayed in the NICU for 2 weeks and were sent home by the same wonderful nurse who was there for us throughout our time with Brandon. Leaving with our twin girls was bittersweet as we had been a part of the NICU for so many years. Each nurse and doctor who is there truly is special. Without them, our family would not be who we are today. Emily (14), Brandon (13), Addi (10) and Sammi (10), are all happy, healthy growing children and we have the NICU at SBMC to thank for that. It has been amazing to see the development of the NICU since our children were there. We know that they will continue to do the miracle work they do each and every day!

Thank you so much, Melissa R.

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